This Ultra-Thin Material Can Stop Bullets by Hardening Like a Diamond

Researchers use the world's strongest material to create a film that can harden like a diamond upon impact.


Researchers from The City University of New York (CUNY) have figured out that if you stack two layers of graphene, the new material it can harden to a diamond-like consistency upon impact. Where is that quality useful? In bullet-proof armor, which tends to be quite heavy, but doesn’t have to be if this graphene-based material is employed.

Graphene, the world’s strongest material, is made up of carbon atoms that are linked together in a honeycomb pattern. It can be produced in one-atom-thick sheets. 

The new material, conceived of by CUNY associate professor Angelo Bongiorno, consists of two sheets of graphene and is called diamene. It’s comparable to foil in lightness and flexibility. But when a sudden mechanical pressure hits it, the material can temporarily become harder than a diamond. 

"Graphite and diamonds are both made entirely of carbon, but the atoms are arranged differently in each material, giving them distinct properties such as hardness, flexibility and electrical conduction," explained Bongiorno. "Our new technique allows us to manipulate graphite so that it can take on the beneficial properties of a diamond under specific conditions."

The researchers see applications of the material in wear-resistant protective coatings and ultra-light bullet-proof films. 

Elisa Riedo, professor of physics and the project's lead researcher, says this is the thinnest film that has the “stiffness and hardness of diamond” that’s ever been created.

"Previously, when we tested graphite or a single atomic layer of graphene, we would apply pressure and feel a very soft film,” she added. “But when the graphite film was exactly two-layers thick, all of a sudden we realized that the material under pressure was becoming extremely hard and as stiff, or stiffer, than bulk diamond."

What’s curious, the effect of hardening only takes place when two sheets of graphene are used. It can’t be any more or less.  

You can read the study here, in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Should you defend the free speech rights of neo-Nazis?

Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
  • In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

It’s just a sheet of glass. With AI.

A new paradigm for machine vision has just been demonstrated.

Image source: aleknext/Shutterstock
Technology & Innovation
  • Scientists have invented a way for a sheet of glass to perform neural computing.
  • The glass uses light patterns to identify images without a computer or power.
  • It's image recognition at the speed of light.
Keep reading Show less

New alternative to Trump's wall would create jobs, renewable energy, and increase border security

A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
  • The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
  • It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
Keep reading Show less

Elon Musk’s Neuralink unveils device to connect your brain to a smartphone

"A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain," Musk said, referring to tests of the device.

Neuralink
Technology & Innovation
  • Neuralink seeks to build a brain-machine interface that would connect human brains with computers.
  • No tests have been performed in humans, but the company hopes to obtain FDA approval and begin human trials in 2020.
  • Musk said the technology essentially provides humans the option of "merging with AI."
Keep reading Show less